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Court updated on historic jail plans

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Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 3:00 pm


The county is moving forward on devising a plan to bring the old historic jail back into operation after it was shut down last month when asbestos was discovered in some loosened plaster inside the building. 

“We are working with the insurance company and FEMA to identify funding sources for abatements,” Shawn Harris, with County Services, told commissioners in an update during Monday’s meeting. 

Harris said the plaster on the outside of the building was tested and found to be clear of any asbestos, while the plaster on the inside of the building was found to have 2 percent asbestos, which never became airborne. 

Testing of other county buildings where employees were moved to was conducted, with only one office in the historic courthouse turning up one asbestos fiber. 

“That office is still deemed ‘clean’,” Harris told commissioners. 

Some asbestos was discovered in a mechanical closet in the Grady Tuck Building, which was immediately sealed off, Harris added. 

County Engineer Carolyn Dill told commissioners Human Resources was already working on procuring training for county employees. 

In addition, Harris requested the court take a look at the county safety plan and add updates on hazard communication and record retention. 

“It sounds to me like after all the testing, things are relatively clean,” County Judge Paul Pape said. 

“We are grateful for that, but now we have some work to do in remediation.” 

Community Block Grant 

The court approved several items relating to a Texas Community Block Grant, which gives the county funds to repair the damage sustained during the April and June 2016 flooding events. 

Solid Waste Grant 

Commissioners accepted a grant from the Capital Area Council of Governments in the amount of $46,250 for the household hazardous facility in Smithville. 

The funds will go towards extending a concrete slab and a covering for the area. 

Discussion item

In a discussion only item, Commissioner Mark Meuth told the court he was approached by residents on Sand Hill Road with a unique way for the county to repair the bridge that was damaged during Hurricane Harvey last fall. 

There is a provision in the Texas Transportation Code that lets counties ask the constituents on a private road to pay a special tax to pay for the county to come in and repair the road. The tax must be approved by a majority of the residents on the road in a vote. 

Pape said he and Meuth met with about a dozen of the residents who live on the road last week, and they asked the court to consider this option as a way to get the road fixed. 

One cost estimation was around $500,000 to bring the road up to par, which Meuth made clear he did not have in his road and bridge fund to cover, so that cost would fall to the county. 

Several points about the option were brought up over the course of the discussion. Pape expressed his desire that the court would consider the option for the sake of the residents when wrapping up discussion on the agenda item.

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